Wednesday, December 09, 2009

New Hampshire's turn for an Independent?

Looking to both the East and West of the Granite State, there have been a series of successful state-wide Independent candidates. As far back as 1975, Mainers elected their first Independent Governor, James B. Longley. Longley, a center-left Democrat on social issues, left the Democratic Party over fiscal issues. Running as a fiscally-conservative and socially progressive Independent, he struck a chord with more Mainers than either the Republicans or Democrats, and left as his mark a reorganization of the University system. From 1995 to 2003, Mainers again elected an Independent, Angus King, with an eclectic philosophical record but who was perceived as very strong on educational issues, a recurrent issue in Maine politics.

To the West, Vermont sent Jim Jeffords to the U. S. Senate as a Republican three times. But in 2001, Jeffords switched to Independent, and the catalyst was Republican opposition to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Jeffords would strongly represent a civil libertarian position, opposing the ban on gays in the military and the FCC Decency Act (which would eventually be struck down by the Supreme Court), and opposing background checks at gun shows, the flag desecration amendment, and the use of military force in Iraq. On Economic issues, he supported the Balanced Budget Amendment and Free Trade agreements.

To the south of New Hampshire, Independent candidates are polling ahead of Democrats and Republicans in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Ex-Democrat Tim Cahill is running strongly in Massachusetts, with - surprise, surprise - a socially moderate and fiscally conservative approach. In Rhode Island, ex-Senator Lincoln Chaffee, who was targeted by the conservative wing of the GOP, is positioned as a pragmatic independent who is not as 'mean' as the shrill Republican base, but more fiscally responsible than the chaotic Democratic-lead statehouse. And of course in Connecticut, Independent Joe Lieberman felt ostracized by liberal Democrats, and has almost single-handedly prevented a new socialized health program from leaving the Senate.

One must ask: what traits do all of these Independent victories have in common?

First, Fiscal irresponsibility among Democrats.
Second, capture of the Republican Party by an extreme and shrill right wing.
Third, voter rejection of both (1) and (2) above, and falling party identification.
Fourth, Independent candidates who support fiscal responsibility; social tolerance and civil liberties; and who have strong pro-Education platforms.

Which brings us to New Hampshire, and the 2010 Gubernatorial election.

Governor John Lynch's record of fee & tax increases, free-wheeling spending, and fiscal incompetence will go down in history as legendary. Not in recent history has this state seen such deceitful budgeting, nor so many tax and fee increases. Combined with the national Obama juggernaut of staggering deficits and spending, a growing number of Americans from "the middle" - where elections are won - are pushing back against the Democrats irresponsibility.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party will not necessarily benefit from this anger. The Bush years convinced an entire generation of Americans that Republicans, too, stand for big government and big spending. Worse, the histrionics of right-wing media idols like Glenn Beck have painted the GOP as a party of the lunatic fringe.

NH GOP contender Karen Testerman represents the fringe that the public rejects: a co-founder of the Christianist "Cornerstone Policy Research," in 2003 she compared gays and lesbians to "shoplifters and drug addicts," and told the Nashua Telegraph that she would have to "prayerfully assess" her role in the Republican primary. In the second least 'evangelical' state in the union (Vermont being first), Testerman represents everything that most independents and moderate - and many former Republican voters fear most: a religious fringe candidate who will see the Office of Education and the Office of Health and Human Services as a personal crusade to impose theological opinion.

With the Democrats in disarray over the financial meltdown for which they and they alone are responsible, and the Republicans insisting on pandering to a shrill far-right base, New Hampshire and its swelling ranks of Independent voters may well be poised to elect an Independent who represents fiscal sanity, social tolerance, and a strong commitment to both Jobs and Education.

Now...who's stepping up to the plate?

Friday, December 04, 2009

"Good" news on the Unemployment Front? Not even close...

One of the most frustrating aspects of our modern culture is the superficial, misunderstood, and unquestioned reporting of economics statistics by the mainstream media. As an Economics teacher, I am constantly asking my students to 'dig deeper' and uncover the real data under the cliche-ridden news reports, and today was no exception.

This morning the media hailed the apparent reduction in the unemployment rate from 10.2% to 10%. Accepting those figures at face value, headlines all over the web and on the television excitedly asked, "Have we turned the Corner?!"

Much to their chagrin, the answer is a non-negotiable NO.

Here are the facts behind that supposed 'reduction' in Unemployment (all facts easily ascertainable from the report itself, if they would read further than the equivalent of a tweet...)

1) The number of Americans out of work long-term - 27 weeks or more actually ROSE to 5.9 million, the highest number since 1948. Only the very short-term jobless rate (less than 14 weeks) decreased, and that due largely to temporary seasonal retail hires.

2)Of those who found employment, 55% found employment in Temp Hiring Agencies. In other words, these are temporary positions. It does not reflect a new confidence on the part of business calling back workers or expanding; rather it reflects the continued fear that businesses have and their reluctance to hire. Worse, it means that these newly-Temp-hired workers are almost unanimously worse off than they were in their previous jobs, because few (if any) Temp agencies offer benefits such as health insurance or sick days, and they certainly do not offer any long-term job security or comparable wages.

3)The current rate excludes the 9.2 million workers who, threatened with the loss of their home, shut-off of utilities, or lack of basic food and fuel, took jobs at lower paying rates using less-efficient skillsets than they they had before. As soon as someone takes a job - even a part-time, poorly-paying job - they no longer count in the unemployment rate. When these people are added into the rate, however, the total amount of Unemployment plus "Under"employment now exceeds 17% of the American workforce, the highest on record. [note: this statistic was not kept during the Great Depression, which was admittedly worse. That's hardly a consolation, though...]

4)Much has been made by liberals in the past that the poorest families are single-parent headed families headed by women. These same liberals should look at the demographic breakdown of the current unemployment rate, because the numbers border on frightening: In Female Head of Household families - already one of the poorest per-capita groups in America - the unemployment rate has increased to 11.4%.

The only thing to note in this report is the abject failure of both Fiscal Policy and Federal Reserve operations in relieving the current economic meltdown.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

"How Many Days to America? - A Thanksgiving Story"

My children range in age from 13 to 24. In their younger years, one of the traditions in which our family faithfully engaged was the evening reading of books together before bedtime. "How Many Days to America? - A Thanksgiving Story" (authored by Eve Bunting and illustrated by Bev Peck) was a traditional read in our home - a home that was rather unique, as our six adopted children had widely varied backgrounds and 'personal stories.' The book does not recount the Pilgrim's tale, but tells the story of a Carribean family's efforts to come to America in modern times via a small boat to be "safe and free." It is a book I was never able to finish (as my children still remind me), because my eyes would well up and my voice would crack and I had to put it down.

The Immigrant Story is one that touches the very essence of my soul. Oddly enough, my own family has been here since the Dutch landed in Nieuw Amsterdam (New York) in the 1600s...but there is something about the human desire for freedom that resonates very deeply within me. Whether it was Dutch traders looking for a new business venture in the New World; religious refugees in 17th Century Europe; victims of the Irish famine, the Scottish Clearances, or the 30 Years War that ripped apart the German lands; Haitians fleeing the most impovershed and corrupt nation in the western hemishphere; Russians looking to taste freedom for the first time in their lives; Jews seeking a new start upon the liberation of Buchenwald; the forced travels of African slaves, Native Americans on the Trail of Tears, or the expulsion of the Acadian French; or Latin Americans seeking a just rule of law and better opportunities...the immigrant experience of leaving everything known and familiar and seeking to carve one's own place in peace, freedom, and prosperity is one of humankinds' most astounding and emotional stories.

And so, on Thanksgiving, I am doing much soul-searching, and offering much thanks for my nation...and also soberly recognizing the threats we are under from both the socialist left and the theocratic right. Having been involved in political battles my entire life, I don't believe I have ever seen this nation so divided and so 'under siege' from within as well as from without. Even the riots and political divisions of the late 1960s, through the Kent State Massacre and the Watergate era seem to pale in comparison to the current regime's power grab throughout the economy and the strident, shrill opposition being commandeered by Neo-Puritans on the far right.

It gives one pause. It strengthens Resolve. And it spurs one on to new adventures in the reclaimation, preservation and expansion of Freedom.

Stay tuned for a coming announcement...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

NH Holiday Gift Drives

This year the New Hampshire Bears will sponsor THREE Holiday Gift Drives: Dec 4 in Keene, Dec 5 in Manchester, and Dec 6 in Salisbury Beach (MA). As always, these gifts help families affected by HIV & other chronic illnesses, as well as families separated by military service or incarceration.

The NH Bears is a Registered Charity in the State of New Hampshire. Last year you provided over $1,000 worth of gifts to families in need. This year, the need is greater than ever. Join us in Holiday Spirit at any of these drives, and, if able, bring unwrapped gifts or food items to any of the following three drives:

Friday, December 6, 9:00 pm
'Vendetta '
43 Central Square, Keene, NH
(603) 283-0233
http://www.myspace.com/vendettabar

Saturday , December 5, 9:00 pm
The Breezeway Pub
14 Pearl Street & Elm Street
Manchester, NH
(603) 621-9111
http://www.thebreezeway.net/

Sunday, December 6, from 4pm - 8 pm
Chef Howie's Hobo Cafe
5 Broadway & Route 1A (on the Beach)
Salisbury Beach, MA (just over the border from Seabrook NH)
Reggae Music with D.J. Khandie and Complimentary Buffet!
(978) 465-4626
http://www.chefhowieshobocafe.com/

It will be *wonderful* to see you at any of these events!

Thom

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"If They're Democrats, It's Not Homophobia."

(Published today at the Indeoendent Gay Forum)
http://www.indegayforum.org/blog

by Stephen H. Miller

Yet another fawning Washington Post puff piece on an Obama staffer looks at White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, who was formerly chief of staff to Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).The post relates this bit of history. In Baucus's 2002 senate race:

Messina masterminded a bruising attack ad against Republican state Sen. Mike Taylor, a former hairdresser. The ad featured video footage of Taylor, then decades younger and bearded, setting the hair and massaging the temples of a mustachioed man in a beauty salon chair -- with a funky bomp-chic-a-bomp-bomp '70s beat in the background. The spot ends with a frozen frame of Taylor reaching down and out of sight toward the other man's lap. Disapprovingly, a voice-over declares, "Mike Taylor: Not the way we do business here in Montana." ...

Stephanie Schriock [Montana's junior senator Jon Tester's chief of staff] cited the ad as one example of how Baucus has long appreciated and been served by Messina's killer instinct. "Jim was willing to make the hard call to put an ad out there," she said.
Nowhere does reporter Jason Horowitz question the use of overt homophobic stereotypes (regardless of the fact that Taylor wasn't, in fact, gay) to aid the Democrat's cause. But then, neither the politically supplicant media nor LGBT Democratic activists seem to mind pandering and promoting the denigration of gay people when it serves the interests of their party. (Which is to say, if it were a Republican administration, the appointment of a White House deputy chief of staff with this history would have triggered loud protests; here, it's just an amusing anecdote.)

Saturday, November 21, 2009

H1N1 Vaccines, Breast Cancer, and the Congressional Health Care Bill.



The Anti-Government Health Care Arguement: "Around the world, socialized medicine has resulted in a rationing of care. Governments have found themselves limiting access to services and establishing waiting lists. In Canada, patients wait an average of 27.9 weeks just to see an ophthamologist after referral by their GP ( http://www.fraserinstitute.org/researchandpublications/publications/2548.aspx )

Americans will end up with higher costs and less care as it is rationed."


Real? Or just fear-mongering? Those in favor of government-provided insurance and care say this is nonsense, and point to anecdotal incidences of friends receiving care in Canada and finding it just fine.

So let's stop talking "what ifs...," and look at Current Reality:

The H1N1 vaccine *is* a socialized, government program. The shot is free.
It is also in short supply everywhere, and doses are restricted to only the most at-risk patients. Conversely, the usual vaccinations, provided by the market, are readily available.

The Federal Government recently funded a study released by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which recommended that women of average breast cancer risk start mammograms at age 50, not 40, and have them every two years rather than annually. Breast Cancer is currently the leading form of cancer in women. Many of us know women who are alive today because they caught a vigorous form of breast cancer early (including my own mother).

But now, the feds are recommending that women reduce their preventative mammograms. Meanwhile, page 1,190 of the House health care bill specifically states that Government Insurance shall not pay for preventative care that exceeds the Task Force's guidelines - even though NOT ONE member of the Task Force specialized in cancer or women's health!

There is the reality of Socialized Medicine. Rationing. Less Care. But we can all feel 'good' because Government is Caring for us, right?

Health Care needs reform - but this bill must be defeated.

And if it is passed, it needs to be repealed.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Theocratic Right a danger to NH, her citizens, & the GOP's health

Nationally, many Republicans have become upset with the national party. And in an effort to bring the party back to its small-government, individual-liberty Republican roots, "Republican Liberty Caucuses" have sprung up around the country. The RLCs embrace a libertarian approach to government: fiscal responsibility and social tolerance. And yet, in some places (such as NH), this group has entangled itself with Social Conservatives who are as antithetical to liberty as any other Statist.

In New Hampshire, Tim Condon, VP of the state chapter regularly offers snarky comments about gay rights issues (such as today's post, "... If you don't grant their every demand for special "gay rights," then you're anti-gay and "homophobic." Haven't you heard?")

Today's performance of the Theocratic Right, however, wins the prize for its open display of hostility and mean-spiritedness. Maybe they're not homophobic. Maybe they're just juvenile and filled with hate.

From: http://www.bluehampshire.com

"After his radio show "Meet the New Press" ended today, GraniteGrok.com co-founder Doug Lambert looked into a live web-streaming camera, mockingly wished state Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley a Happy Birthday and then called Buckley a "faggot" before basically wishing him dead.

...After co-host Skip Murphy (a frequent poster on the RLCNH Group list) said that he should probably shut off the feed, Lambert looked into the camera and said, "Speaking of gays, Happy Birthday Ray Buckley. Are you going to Holland or taking another trip with your buddies?"

He then dances in a way meant to mock a gay male and says: "Yeah you Faggot. [Pause.] That's right I said it and I meant it. You are reprobate. How the people, the Democrats, I think of some of the gray haired ladies and older people from the old party would stand behind you is beyond me. You are a disgrace to yourself to humanity to mankind and to your party.

"Other than that Happy Birthday Ray and many more -- not," Lambert continued before the feed was quickly shut off."

Disgusting. And if the Theocrats in the GOP want open warfare, they've got it.

UPDATE

Doug Lambert has issued a crocodile-tear apology on GraniteGrok.com, including these gems:

"I made a play to the camera that was watched and reported on by an online media outlet..."

Hey, I was having some fun and got caught by 'outsiders.'

"...Being human, and an honest person that is used to freely speaking my mind, my passion got the best of me. Politically correct? Nah, that's not my style. Calling people names, THAT'S usually not my style, either, as I prefer to debate the issues in a battle of ideas...."

I'm a great guy, so you can overlook this. No PC pansy-ass here (like that faggot, Ray Buckley)

"...I care deeply about my family, my state and my country. My sole reason for having this show is to shed light on just how quickly our country is being led down the wrong path. My remarks were not helpful to protecting the rights and the freedoms I fight for everyday...."

I'm a Pro-Family Guy (you know what I mean), so I need my fans to gather round me to prevent us from going to hell in a handbasket because of those faggots

The apology is just as bad as the initial tirade....

UPDATE #2

The Spin Control is in full operation over on the RLCNH list. Various posters have re-framed the issue as one of 'free speech,' criticizing Ray Buckley for an Amsterdam video escapade (all the while fauning all over Carrie She-of-the-8-Sex-Videos Prejean), and pointing to Gay activist nastiness.

But *none* of those are the points. This is not about free speech (a Constitutional Right), or Carrie Prejean (Don't get me started), or nasty gay ativists (I've been on the receiving end more than I care to admit).

It's about an underlying mean-spirited, divisive nastiness that lies just under the surface of the theocrats. They may speak in the language of love and forgiveness and freedom and liberty, but that's only to avoid being exposed as the hate-mongers they are. This year we will see a variety of challenges to GOP candidates, and 'smart' theocrats will try their best to keep their Social positions out of public view, and try to ride public discontent with fiscal issues to electoral victory.

God help us all at that point.

The GOP needs to return to it's Goldwateresque roots of fiscal responsibility and social libertarianism. The GOP's Theocrats - NOT the Democrats - represent the biggest threat to the party's re-emergence. 37% of gay men and women actually voted for McCain in the last presidential election. We fight in the armed forces and lose our pensions because of DADT. We are forced to lie on our income taxes about our filing status because of DOMA. It's time the GOP acted in accordance with it's stated philosophies and reject control of the Party by the Far Right

UPDATE 3
In case readers haven't heard about it, the owners of WEMJ Radio, which had carried the Saturday morning talk show on which Doug Lambert made the offensive comment about Ray Buckley this past weekend, will no longer carry the program. Nassau Broadcasting has on the WEMJ WEBSITE an announcement stating that it "has terminated its contract to air the local radio talk show "Meet the New Press" on its station WEMJ 1490 AM with PoliGrok, LLC, owned and operated by Mr. Doug Lambert..." The announcement further states that Nassau "...terminated the show based on highly offensive and unacceptable comments made by Mr. Lambert during an off-air segment of the show."

Mr. Rob Fulmer, Nassau's NH Regional Manager, said "Although the comments by Mr. Lambert were not aired on our station, we find the comments by him to be completely out of line and unacceptable and we will not allow Mr. Lambert the opportunity to continue to air his show on our radio station." Pulling of the program is effective immediately.

NOTE: On the GraniteGrok website, Doug Lambert has issued an apology that I believe is genuine: he identifies the hatred he has harbored, and in his own religious terms, expresses true sorrow. He has also left the Grok. Unfortunately, that leaves Skip Murphy in control of the emasculated program, and Skip still doesn't get it. In commenting on the incident, Skip mentions the phrase "Politically Correct" (or "incorrect") not once, not twice, not three or four times - but SIX times in one post.

This is NOT about being "PC" - it is about political activism borne of Hatred. Doug, apparently, gets it. Skip still doesn't.

Civilian Criminal trial in NY for Khalid Sheik Mohammed: the wrong choice

Anyone who has read this blog knows that there are few Republican bloggers who were as critical of George Bush as me. I opposed Guantanamo, waterboarding, the Patriot Act, and the wholesale trashing of the Constitution. Obama offered Americans a 'change' from those policies...it's unfortunate that this 'change' is no better, and by many measures, is far worse.

The decision to try Mohammed - who masterminded the 9/11 attacks - in the civlilan court system raises some difficult questions:

1) If Mohammed's acts are merely "criminal" and not part of an Act of War by Al Qaeda, then why are we fighting in Afghanistan? Our incursion into Afghanistan was based on the notion that the US was under attack by a foreign entity, warranting a military response to defeat the attackers. If Mohammed was an upper level operative of the attack, then he should be tried in a military tribunal. If he is simply a 'criminal,' then Obama should withdraw us from Afghanistan immediately and proclaim the incursion an unwarranted mistake. Anything short of this is illogical and hypocritical.

2) The Federal court in New York will need to deal with the issue of the admissibility of evidence obtained during the 183 waterboarding sessions used with Mohammed. This is a no-win situation for the American public: if the Court rules the evidence in inadmissible, it endangers the possibility of a conviction. But if it rules that the evidence *is* admissible, it's even worse: it could establish the right of the State to use torture to obtain evidence in domestic criminal investigations, which will complete the evisceration of the Bill of Rights.

I wish I knew what Obama was thinking when this was announced....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

May 24-May 28: Marriage Equality March in Maine

Like Martin Luther King's marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama - the mission of the Maine LGBT Civil Rights March is to bring thousands of LGBT rights supporters together to march from Portland to Augusta, Maine with one simple message: Civil Rights Now.

Planning: We planning an event like Maine has never seen before. A 5-day march from Portland to Augusta. A 5-day march from Bangor to Augusta. Meeting in the Middle for Equality. Join us.

Info and Signup on Facebook...search for MAINE LGBT Civil Rights March

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Health Care Bill HR 3962 passes House - overall, a bad bill

I am not one of those Republicans who opposes all health care reform. However, I strongly oppose bad reform, and on balance, this bill is very, very bad.

The Good: The bill removes Insurer's exemptions from antitrust laws, and creates a national marketplace for shopping for insurance. This is good for consumers, good for competition, and will improve insurance access. The bill also eliminates restrictions on pre-existing conditions, an important aspect of any insurance reform. While it is true that insurers need to make a profit to survive and pay claims, it is also true that the purpose of an insurance pool is to spread the risk - both good risks and bad risks - across the entire pool of insurees. For far too long Insurance companies have gotten away with creating pools that are guaranteed 'winners,' further enhanced by their near monopoly status in some states and ability to limit competition across state lines. These are positive aspects of the bill, and aspects that the GOP ought to get behind in the public marketplace of ideas.

The Bad & The Ugly: The bill requires large companies to offer insurance, and requires citizens to secure insurance, period. The element of freedom of choice will been eliminated, as the government forces us to purchase a product. The cost to individuals and employers in terms of premiums could be disastrous in a recession. Worse, the Government Budget Office readily admits it is planning on offsetting the cost of the new program through 167 BILLION in fines on individuals and employers over the next 10 years. In other words, they are actually counting and planning on consumers and businesses being unable to comply in order to pay for the program!

The bill charges the IRS with compliance with the mandatory insurance provision. This is modeled after Massachusetts, which requires proof of health insurance coverage before one is able to file their State Tax Return. In practice, this has proven to be a nightmare for accountants, who with increasing frequency are preparing returns due to the complexity of the tax code. Now accountants and tax preparers will need to prove insurance coverage on a national scale, and will vastly complicate their practices and increase the costs of filing income taxes for both preparers and taxpayers.

And worst of all is the creation of a Government-run Health Care Insurance Company. There are three ways this can go:

1) It can be so successful, that private insurers, now facing stiffer competition and requirements to cover expensive pre-existing conditions, go out of business, and the government becomes a sole insurance provider.
2) It can be financially unsound, and taxpayers will be called upon to bail it out.
3) Both of the Above (the most likely scenario)

In the course of the debate, those against government health-care have pointed to a shortage of coverage in countries with socialized medicine, the rationing of care based on cost-benefit analysis, and the prospect of government-insiders having better access to medical care than the citizens in times of shortage. Could that really happen?

Well, a real-life, real-time personal case in point: The "free" government-run Swine Flu (H1N1) vaccines. The supply of vaccines is woefully short and late. Then, last week we got a call from the local hospital telling us that they ran all of their patients through a database and one of my sons 'qualified' for a shot. Meanwhile, the news reported that Goldman Sachs (you know, the company which supplied us with the Fed Reserve Governors, the Sec. of Treasury, and Bailout Gurus?) received 200 doses of Vaccines.

Oh? Why is that? Are they all children with pre-existing conditions? Health Care Workers? Or just "connected" to the right people?

Lastly, the fact that this is a 1,990 page bill that was passed in the middle of the night. I sincerely doubt how many members of Congress actually read the bill. Upon completion, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi remarked that this was landmark legislation, and compared it to the advent of Social Security.

Great comparison, Nancy. Social Security is a ponzi scheme headed for bankruptcy within our lifetime. And that's what you compare this legislation to?! Let's hope calmer heads prevail in the Senate...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Keene State College wins "distinction" for Unconstitutional Silencing of Free Speech

Speech Code of the Month: Keene State CollegeNovember 2, 2009
by Samantha Harris

FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for November 2009: Keene State College in New Hampshire.

Keene State's "Statement on Sexist Language," found in the college's Student Handbook, states that "Keene State College will not tolerate language that is sexist and promotes negative stereotypes and demeans members of our community." Keene State is a public university, legally bound to uphold the guarantees of the First Amendment, yet this policy blatantly prohibits constitutionally protected speech. Not only does it prohibit protected speech, but it also leaves a great deal of what we would call core protected expression—that is, the kind of political and social commentary at the heart of the First Amendment—vulnerable to punishment. Indeed, there are many serious and legitimate expressions of opinion that some would say are sexist and promote negative stereotypes. One need only recall the uproar over former Harvard University President Larry Summers' speech suggesting that differences in aptitude might be a factor in women's underrepresentation at the highest levels of math and science—a speech that led to his resignation from Harvard and that led the University of California to disinvite him from speaking at one of its campuses in the wake of a faculty petition stating that he "has come to symbolize gender and racial prejudice in academia."

In the university setting—which the U.S. Supreme Court has called peculiarly the "marketplace of ideas"—the expression of different and controversial views is an essential element of the learning process. A policy like this, which chills debate by threatening to punish any expression that might be deemed "sexist," is not only unconstitutional but also runs contrary to what a university should be. For this reason, Keene State College is our November 2009 Speech Code of the Month.

If you believe that your college or university should be a Speech Code of the Month, please e-mail speechcodes@thefire.org with a link to the policy and a brief description of why you think attention should be drawn to this code. If you are a current college student or faculty member interested in these issues, consider joining FIRE's Campus Freedom Network, a loose affiliation of college faculty members and students dedicated to advancing individual liberties on their campuses. And if you would like to help fight abuses at universities nationwide, add FIRE's Speech Code of the Month Widget to your blog, website, or Facebook profile and help shed some much-needed sunlight on these repressive policies

Quote of the Day (Week? Year? CENTURY ?!)


"You can't put a civil rights issue on the ballot and let the people decide. You have to have elected officials who have courage to make the right decision. If you left it up to the people, we'd have slavery, depending on how you worded it." - Former Minnesota governor and pro wrestler Jesse Ventura, responding to Maine's vote on CNN last night. (Source-JMG)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

"Congratulations" to the Purists....

Well, Congratulations for a Pyrrhic Victory goes to the Right-Wing GOP Purists. Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and the National Organization for Marriage managed to replace Assemblywoman Scozzafava with an out-of district Conservative, Doug Hoffman, in the special election to fill NYs 23rd CD.

In the end, the Democrat, Bill Owen, won the district, which has been Republican for over 150 years. So now, instead of Dede (who understood the district and its politics) voting with the GOP on 80% of issues, they have a Democrat who will support the Obama agenda.

There are now TWO Republican Congressmen left in all of New England and New York.

Good going, morons.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Dede drops out in NY's 23rd CD



Dede Scozzafava, a 'moderate' Republican whose voting record is consistent with New York's brand of Republicanism, has been forced out of the sepcial election for that state's 23rd Congressional District.

I must admit, I find this entire chapter to be disappointing and troublesome.

Little that has set blogs abuzz has been true.

Dede Scozzfava was elected multiple times as a Republican to the NYS Assembly.

Dede, by every measure, has a *more conservative* voting record than the average Republican in the NYS Assembly.

Local Republican leaders - 11 County leaders - chose this seasoned Republican to represent the party in a special election. The RNC did what the RNC *should* do: it accepted the *local* decision.

Then, in the space of a few weeks, weirdness ensued.

With little understanding of the candidate or the district, and armed with outright *lies* about her positions on multiple issues, national conservatives tripped over themselves trying to out-flank each other on the right. The reality is that Dede is NOT the Big Liberal Socialist she was painted as: in fact, her bigest crimes are the union card-check (and I disagree with her on this, but there is a local history that is important and lost on out of state leaders), and guess what: Marriage Equality and Abortion Rights. BINGO! The religious Right springs into action, the Eagle Forum weighs in, the National Organization for Marriage (a despicable group of disingenuous liars) weighs in, and Dede is re-imagined as the Wicked Witch of the North.

They flock to Hoffman, their conservative Superhero...who doesnt even live in the district and who has managed to make a fool of himself in local press conferences due to his lack of knowledge of the area. But no matter, the dice have been rolled. Dede is out.

I am honestly reminded of the townspeople in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," who listen uncritically to what Gaston has told them, pick up their pitchforks and torches, and march on the castle.

This is a no-win situation for our party. On one hand, the District could elect the first Democrat in 150 years. Or, more likely, Hoffman could win - thus emboldening the Purge of both "moderates" and true "libertarians" within the party in favor of a a Purer, Narrower, and ultimately Ineffective Social-Statist Southern Republican Party.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

GDP up 3.5%? Obama's Hollow Cheerleading....



Apparently, we're supposed to pop the champagne corks and celebrate: GDP is up 3.5%, the recession is over, and the Recovery has begun. At least that's what the prObama Media outlets and White House are telling us.

My ECO 101 students could do a better job analyzing that statistic than most of the talking heads currently reporting it.

GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is a measure of all the goods and services created within a society's economy. Due to the work of noted Economist Arthur Okun, we know that GDP and Employment move in the same direction: when Employment increases, GDP increases, and vice versa. After four or five quarters of negative GDP, an increase of 3.5% would normally be a welcome sign. Except in this case, the figure is highly deceptive and manipulated, for the following reasons:

1) While GDP increased 3.5%, Consumer Spending - purchases by you and me - decreased by .5% AGAIN. In other words, the increase in purchases of goods and services did NOT come from "the people." Our spending fell. Rather, this spending came from the Federal Government as it purchased flashy orange signs to erect around the country proclaiming that our tax dollars were at work.

2) This additional spending was a one-time shot in the arm by the government. Does the White House and Congress expect to authorize 787 Billion every quarter to keep that up? Much of the increase in spending was in the "Cash for Clunkers" Program....which is now over, and which did not create a single job anywhere.

3) The White House claims that One Million jobs were saved or created through the stimulus. Since the stimulus was 787 Billion, that amounts to $787,000 tax dollars (not including future interest) spent per job. I would rate that as a FAILED effort.

4) The White House also claims that most of these jobs were in Construction and Education. How Convenient...construction jobs are considered highly seasonal, and when these workers lose their jobs in the winter, they are often excluded from the unemployment figures, which are usually presented as "seasonally adjusted unemployment" figures. The White House is now *counting* these jobs when they are created to credit the Stimulus Package, but you can bet these job losses will be *excluded* when the winter unemployment figures are released because they will be 'seasonally adjusted.'

5) Education, while important, doesn't create products or jobs. Saving jobs in education may ingratiate Obama to teacher's unions, but this sector does not create products or create wealth in the economy as other sectors do. It is no surprise that while GDP increased, Unemployment increased to 9.8%, and most economists expect it to hit double-digits this month - a month when pre-Christmas hiring would normally reduce this figure.

With unemployment increasing and consumer confidence and purchases falling, the 3.5% GDP increase is a make-believe number based on the Federal Government maxing out it's credit cards with few places left to turn when they come due.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lynch's Shameful Medical Marijuana Veto upheld



(a guest post from Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a valiant liberty-minded Representative from Manchester, as posted on http://www.redhampshire.com)

Despite all the words being uttered to change the minds of two senators, it just didn’t happen. After the House voted 240-115 to override John Lynch’s veto of medical marijuana today, two senators need to change their positions to go from 14-10 to the 16-8 necessary for two thirds.

Not a single vote changed.

Republican Bob O’Dell said no (not to pass the bill) early in the roll call and things went as expected until it came to Ted Gatsas, the Republican who is running for Mayor of Manchester. Pro medical marijuana forces knew they needed Gatsas to switch. He said no and it was all over. Then Senator Betsi DeVries, the only Democrat to vote against the bill and very much beholden to firefighters who fought the bill, also said no.

Thus, no change. 14-10.

The House vote was closer than expected even though seven more Republicans voted for the bill this time than last time, from 50 up to 57. Had four yes votes gone no, it would not have made it in the House. Why so close? Because of absenses. More than twice as many Democrats (the yeses ) than Republicans were absent, 29-13.

Final party vote in the House was Democrats 183 yes and only 11 nos. Republicans 57 yes and 104 no including Deputy Republican leader David Hess who, stressing that he was speaking for himself and not the party, lied about the bill during his final speech. Some people don’t think I should use the word lie, but he said the bill allowed for someone to raise six plants with this bill, totally untrue. To me, that’s deliberate misrepresentation which kis tantamount to “lie”. That six plant section was removed from the bill prior to going to the Governor’s desk. If it wasn’t a lie, it was certainly the type iof blatant misstatement that no responsible long term rep like Hess should ever make.

Yes, I’m not happy. It was a sad day for the people of New Hampshire and for the Republican Party.

The two Republican candidates most likely to challenge Betsi Devries for Senate next year should both get tons of Democratic support based on this issue. They both voted for the bill. That would be Will Infantine of Ward 6 ,and oh yes, I would be the other one. Think Libertarians can raise $100,000 to beat Betsi? They did it for Ron Paul, maybe someone else.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Dede Scozzafava: A Pragmatic - and GOOD - Choice for New Yorks 23rd CD.


It's true: Dede Scozzafava, the Republican candidate in northern NY's special Congressional election, doesn't toe the Right-Wing line on a number of issues. Staunchly pro-2nd amendment, she is also pro-abortion rights (consistent with the Supreme Court) and pro-Marriage Equality. My God, she almost sounds Golderwateresque!

But wait, there's more: her husband is a union organizer, and she has very tight ties with union leaders. Her district, along the Canadian border, contains a significantly higher proportion of union workers (and trade concerns) than most districts in the US, and so yes, she tends to side with labor on a number of issues. Hmmm...sounds rather Jack Kempesque, too....which isn't surprising, considering that her district is the remotest, most economically hardest-hit district in New York.

Sarah Palin has opened her mouth in endorsing rival Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman, and Minnesota's Gov. Pawlenty is leaning in that direction. One has to wonder what these two know, if anything, about the 23rd District, and why they are sticking their noses into a New York race.

Even Newt Ginrich has weighed in for Scozzafava, saying

"I just think it is a mistake for the conservative movement to think splitting in the special election is a smart idea. If we give that seat to the Democrats, shame on us.”

He continued: “She has signed a no tax increase pledge. She is endorsed by the National Rifle Association. She has come out against cap and trade… She is opposed to the Obama health care plan. She will vote for John Boehner instead of Nancy Pelosi. All of those things together make her – it seems to me – a legitimate, authentic, Republican nominee.”

Republicans who do not support her are sending a clear message about their onw Rule-or-Ruin attitude: they would rather support the Conservative Party candidate who will lose, but enable unyielding ideologues feel warm and fuzzy at the purity of their vote.

When, oh when will the Republican Party cut off the Right-Wing tail that keeps wagging its dog?

[Disclaimer: I was a Conservative Party State Committeeman from the 5th CD of NY 1986-1988]

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Federal Tax Code...time for GLBT Civil Disobedience



For as long as there has been a federal income tax (only since 1917), the federal government has asked taxpayers to indicate their marital status. Taxpayers need not prove their status, they need only swear that all the information contained on the form is true.

And so, come April 15, I, along with other gay and lesbian couples in New Hampshire and other states permitting same-sex marriage, will have a choice: we can check off "married" on page 1 of our 1040, and sign the bottom of page 2 in good conscience that our return is truthful, or we can call ourselves 'single,' and sign that statement, knowing that calling ourselves 'single' would be a patent lie under state law.

The choice, of course, has both legal and financial consequences: two people filing as married pay far less in federal income tax than those same two people filing as single, especially if there is a large income disparity between them.

And so, for the first time in decades, I will actually engage in an act of civil disobedience under federal law, because I am choosing to answer honestly under state law. (One has to wonder, of course, just how the Feds will choose to pursue this: nowhere on the federal income tax form do they request 'gender'.) And if and when they do uncover it, and charge me with increased taxes and penalties and late fees, I will challenge it in federal court as long and as far as I am able.

And if even a small part of the 600,000+ gay couples in this country do the same, it will be a federal court logjam the likes of which we have never seen.

The problem, of course, stems from "DOMA," the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," a 1996 law that contains two provisions. The first guarantees each state the right not to recognize a same-gender union performed in another state (mere political pandering, as the courts had already long-ruled that states had that right.) The second provision states that the federal government would define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

The problem with that approach, of course, is that it is not the federal government's jurisdiction to define marriage. There is no federal Constitutional provision permitting a federal law in this arena.

In fact, marriage laws are very specifically creatures of state jurisdiction. Nebraska law requires that couples be 19 if they don't have parental consent, while 17 year olds can marry with parental consent; in Hawaii those as young as 15 can marry with parental consent. Alabama and Kansas permit common-law marriage; most states no longer do. In Idaho, females must be tested for Rubella, and In New York, tests for sickle cell anemia may be required before marriage. In Rhode Island, first cousins can marry; In Illinois they can as long as they can not bear children; in Oregon they can if one was adopted; while in New Hampshire and Pennsylvania there is no first-cousin marriage permitted at all.

The rules for who can and who can not get married are state-specific, and the federal government has always accepted the definitions of the states, even though they differed from state to state. By imposing DOMA, the federal government has involved itself in a sphere that is clearly not within it's own jurisdiction, but, under the 10th Amendment, "reserved to the states or to the people."

So, on April 15, I will be checking "married," and I will be signing a sworn oath that I have told the truth.

Let the feds argue in court that I was wrong for so doing. And while I will do it alone if necessary, I invite other couples in our situation to join us.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

President Obama: Refuse the Nobel Peace Prize



I have to say I was as shocked as anyone to hear the President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, a mere nine months after taking office.

In the past, this award has gone to people such as Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela. Jimmy Carter (A well-intentioned but gerenally inept President) was certainly deserving, as he brought together Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel for the very first Arab-Israeli Peace Agreements. And this year, doctors and volunteers working with rape victims in the Congo (where rape as a weapon of war is standard) had been nominated. But Obama won.

This is curious. War continues in Afghanistan (in fact, casualties have worsened). Iraq is unchanged. Tamil Tigers continue their guerilla war in Sri Lanka. Iran denies the holocaust and builds nuclear weapons capable of reaching Israel and beyond. The Guantanamo Bay Detention Center remains open. Just what has Obama accomplished?

Nothing.

Not that anyone should have expected him to. I don't fault him for not solving these problems, and this award is not his 'fault.' However, he really doesn't deserve it. This is more of the Nobel Prize honchos making the political statement "We didn't like Bush, and we're glad Obama won" than anything else, and it has completely cheapened the value of the Nobel Prize.

Obama scores no points with me for winning this. But there's one thing he can do that actually would impress me:

He can refuse it.

By refusing it, and acknowledging the great accomplishments of those who have won it before, he can blunt some of the criticism he receives for his youthful hubris.

But somehow, I doubt that His-Messiah-Ship will have the courage to do that.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Massachusetts Democrats are Brazen Hypocrites



In 2004, The democrats were hoping against all odds that John Kerry would win the Presidency. Of course, that would mean that Kerry would have had to resign from the Senate...and Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney would have had the authority to replace him with an appointment.

With all the appropriate breast-beating, impassioned speeches, and rhetorical flourishes, Democrats in Boston claimed that no Governor should have the 'right' to impose a Senator on the citizens, and they changed the law, insisting that any Senate vacancy be filled by a special election by The People.

Fast Forward five years. Sen Ted kennedy has died, and under the very law that the Democrats imposed, a special election should be held to fill the vacancy.

But hell hath no fury as a vested interest parading as a moral principle.

With another public display of breast-beating, impassioned speeches, and rhetorical flourishes, these same Boston Democrats now claim that the citizens should not be deprived of their right to be fully represented in the Senate..and have changed the law to permit the Governor the appoint Kennedy's replacement.

Of course, this time, the Governor, Deval Patrick, is Democrat.

I think i prefer the stench of roadkill skunk to this hypocrisy.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Whole Foods Alternative to Obamacare: A Guest Blogpost

[With credit to the Wall Street Journal....you'll notice Mr Mackey is echoing some of the proposals we've suggested in this blog before]

By JOHN MACKEY
“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out
of other people’s money.”

—Margaret Thatcher


With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

• Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees’ Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

• Equalize the tax laws so that that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor’s visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Many promoters of health-care reform believe that people have an intrinsic ethical right to health care—to equal access to doctors, medicines and hospitals. While all of us empathize with those who are sick, how can we say that all people have more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have to food or shelter?

Health care is a service that we all need, but just like food and shelter it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges. A careful reading of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution will not reveal any intrinsic right to health care, food or shelter. That’s because there isn’t any. This “right” has never existed in America

Even in countries like Canada and the U.K., there is no intrinsic right to health care. Rather, citizens in these countries are told by government bureaucrats what health-care treatments they are eligible to receive and when they can receive them. All countries with socialized medicine ration health care by forcing their citizens to wait in lines to receive scarce treatments.

Although Canada has a population smaller than California, 830,000 Canadians are currently waiting to be admitted to a hospital or to get treatment, according to a report last month in Investor’s Business Daily. In England, the waiting list is 1.8 million.

At Whole Foods we allow our team members to vote on what benefits they most want the company to fund. Our Canadian and British employees express their benefit preferences very clearly—they want supplemental health-care dollars that they can control and spend themselves without permission from their governments. Why would they want such additional health-care benefit dollars if they already have an “intrinsic right to health care”? The answer is clear—no such right truly exists in either Canada or the U.K.—or in any other country.

Rather than increase government spending and control, we need to address the root causes of poor health. This begins with the realization that every American adult is responsible for his or her own health.

Unfortunately many of our health-care problems are self-inflicted: two-thirds of Americans are now overweight and one-third are obese. Most of the diseases that kill us and account for about 70% of all health-care spending—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and obesity—are mostly preventable through proper diet, exercise, not smoking, minimal alcohol consumption and other healthy lifestyle choices.


Recent scientific and medical evidence shows that a diet consisting of foods that are plant-based, nutrient dense and low-fat will help prevent and often reverse most degenerative diseases that kill us and are expensive to treat. We should be able to live largely disease-free lives until we are well into our 90s and even past 100 years of age.

Health-care reform is very important. Whatever reforms are enacted it is essential that they be financially responsible, and that we have the freedom to choose doctors and the health-care services that best suit our own unique set of lifestyle choices. We are all responsible for our own lives and our own health. We should take that responsibility very seriously and use our freedom to make wise lifestyle choices that will protect our health. Doing so will enrich our lives and will help create a vibrant and sustainable American society.

—Mr. Mackey is co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market Inc.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Obama Health Care: Watching Democrats Implode

God Knows, we *do* need health care reform in this country. Access to insurance, coverage of pre-existing conditions in financially sustainable insurance pools, a re-direction towards doctor-patient decision making, and tort reform should all be on the table.

Quite frankly, it's hard to tell what is on the table right now. The 1,000+ page bill is full of contradictions and embarassing terms, and President Obama seems hell-bent on pushing it through (whatever "it" is) come hell or high water.

I used to post on a popular progressive website (www.bluehampshire.com) devoted to New Hampshire happenings. It claims not to be a Democratic Party site, but, given the characters, it's darn close. In numerous posts I have asked that Obama deal directly and definitively with the provisions of his bill. I have asked him to address concerns that Americans will end up with a Netherlands-like approach to health care which rations treatment based on a cost-benefit analysis of the patient. I never called for defeat of his program: just a direct explanation of various provisions.

I explained my own medical issues, in intimate and heart-on-sleeve details, and wanted assurance that my health care would not suffer.

The response?

I have been called a "Troll." "Privileged." "Blind." It has been inferred that I am a racist (odd, as my family is racially mixed. But then, they did not know that, so they assumed I am a neonazi of some sort). They denied I had health issues. They ripped me up one side and down the other, in non-stop ad hominem arguments.

The Left's devotion to HealthCare Reform (even if they dont know what's in the bill, and especially if they are economically ignorant), surpasses the frenzy and delusion of the God-Hates-Fags Phelps Theocrats.

In fact, that is an apt comparison: the devotion of Obama's apostles on the left to his incoherent Health Care bill approaches religious fanaticism. Zealous devotion regardless of facts. Those who question the doctrine are immediately purged as "impure." When the citizens organize to protest at these Town-Meetings-cum-Theater events the President is hosting, they are derided as nazis, mobs, angry-white-males, neanderthals, Fox-News Idiots, etc.

The apparent formula that the left perceives is this:

Crowds + Organization + passion + grassroots + Obama = Good! Hope! Change!

But,

Crowds + Organization + passion + grassroots + Questioning Obama = EVIL!

The stridency of the left will prove to be its own worst enemy. I asked objective, honest questions, and was ripped to shreds. If this is how the Democrats are going to treat the average American with questions, they deserve the same drubbing that the theocrats on the right have taken.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Unemployment Figures: The Economy has NOT turned around


Some have heralded the "good news" that the Unemployment rate has dropped from a horrific 9.5% all the way down to 9.4% (tongue planted firmly in cheek). This, according to the Obamanauts, shows us that things are turning around.

Bullshit. All those loveley orange signs heralding the "American Reinvestment and Recovery Act" Projects seem to be posted over strangely silent activities.

In fact, the economy *LOST* an additional 247,000 jobs. So why has the Unemployment rate has dropped?

Two reasons:


1) The Unemployment rate is the percent of Americans who are out of work AND ACTIVELY SEEKING work. After 18 months of recession, many Americans have given up for the time being. They have adjusted to life at home, or life off the books, or a single-income in a formerly two-wage earner home. Accordingly, they are no longer considered in the work force, and no longer counted in the Unemployment figures. So, if there are 100 people in the 'labor force,' and 10 are out of work, that's a 10% Unemployment rate. If 5 of those people out of work give up looking, the Unemployment rate is calculated to be 5 unemployed out of 95 in the labor force, which is only a 5.2% rate. Voila! A lowered rate - even though the same number of people are out of work. Similarly, the homeless - which have grown under the foreclosure spate in the last 18 months - are *NOT* considered "Unemployed" because they are no longer considered in the Labor Force. When they lost their job, they were unemployed. When they lost their home and began life in their cars or on the street, they were magically removed from the Unemployment figures.

2) In order to be counted as "Unemployed," an individual must have *no job at all.* That means that when a middle-aged, middle-level manager making $50,000/year loses his job, he is unemployed. 8 months later, when the bank is threatening foreclosure, and the credit card companies are hounding him with dinnertime phone calls, and the kids' tuition is due, and the electric company is threatening to turn off the lights, he takes *anything* he can get...so he takes a part-time job, 20 hours a week at $8.50/hour, cleaning fast food restaurants after they close at night.

Guess what? According to Unemployment calculations, he is no longer Unemployed! He has a Job, even if its part-time! Voila! The rate goes down.

In other words, the longer the recession, the worse things get, the more desperate people become...the better the rate will look.

And that is what is happening under Obama's "Recovery."

Friday, July 17, 2009

5 Steps to Better Health Care

President Obama has launched his Class Warfare Health Policy Initiative. Economists, many Caregivers, and non-Socialists are understandably aghast at the proposal to spend over a trillion dollars, tax the "rich" at 45%, and let loose a system of bureaucracy-controlled health care services. But we need to do more than yell "NO!" We need to acknowledge the problems that do exist; propose solutions that address the problem; and do so within a context that has broad political support from the ideological 'middle' of the country.

With that in mind, I suggest the following parameters:

1) First, we must acknowledge that there *is* a problem in terms of affordable access to health care for many Americans. With 10% of the Labor Force out of work (and youth, stay-at-home parents, part-time workers, the disabled, many immigrants and the homeless are NOT included in the figure), estimates range from 30 to 50 million Americans living without health insurance. That means somewhere between 10% and 15% of Americans.

2) It has been demonstrated that those with a lack of access to health care delay treatment until their conditions require critical (and far more costly) attention. This adds to the expenses Providers incur (and often absorb) and the strain on existing government programs (and thus, increase cost to taxpayers).

3) We must agree that compassion and the political climate both dictate that a, "hell, tough on them!" approach is not an acceptable response.

4) Having said that, the solutions must address the problem. At my office (an Academic institution), one often hears people singing the praises of a Single Payer System. They frame the problem as the 'lack of a single payer system.' However, this response falls apart when weighed rationally. If 85% of Americans had affordable access to supermarket food, and 15% were lacking basic nutrition, we would never suggest that all 100% of the country have access to free food at the supermarket, with the bill sent to The Government. We all know intuitively that the result would be a run on food, a shortage of goods in the supermarket, wasted resources, and a broke country. And yet, that is precisely what the Single Payer Cheerleaders want for health care. If the problem is access for 15% of Americans, than the solution is a way to find access for 15% of Americans.

5) Insurance is both a blessing and a curse: it allows people to access health care (the blessing), but also permits non-emergency situations to crowd hospitals and ER rooms with unncessary service, as consumers receive thousands of dollars worth of treatment for a small copay of $10, $25, or $50. True Health Care Reform must acknowledge objective, observable economic realities and not be bases on some hand-holding kumbaya approach to human nature.

6) The provision of care must be centered on the Doctor-Patient relationship, NOT on insurers' profits or government bureaucracies "one-sized-fits-all" approach of form and process and procedure and approval.

7) We must acknowldge that the American health care system is the best in the world, bar none. Those who point to Canada forget that there is not a single modern machine in Canada capable of removing kidney stones. Those who trumpet Britain forget that Britain has closed 40% of her hospital beds since the 1940 NHS was enacted. Those who point to Scandinavia forget that it is the American doctors who win the Noebel prizes, the American researchers who have made all the modern major medical breakthroughs in the last century, and it is America that attracts doctors from all over the world.

So..in a nutshell: we need a system that helps those without affordable access to gain that access, in a way that protects and enhances the doctor-patient relationship, lowers costs to consumers and providers, and continues to support a profitable - and successful - health industry.

With all of those as 'context,' here are my 5 Proposals:

1) Permit community groups to form for the purpose of buying health insurance. Sounds simple, isn't it? But it's illegal. Individuals can *not,* under existing law, form 'groups' whose primary purpose is purchasing insurance. (Groups may form for business or fraternalh purposes, and then choose to buy insurance as an incidental benefit, but they can not form for no other reason than to buy insurance). End this prohibition, let the market dictate rates, let competition ensue, and there will be no need for a Federal Government-related Insurance Bureaucracy. Take it one step further: end State Monopolies on insurers. The Federal Government (not States) has the authority to regulate Interstate Commerce, and since people may have an accident *anywhere* and request their insurer to cover it, this is clearly federal jurisdiction. Blow open the lid on Insurer Competition.

2) Enact Tort and Medical Malpractice Reform NOW. It was reported 5 years ago that an OB-GYN doctor in Massachusetts has to deliver EIGHTY-FIVE babies just to cover his malpractice insurance premiums for a year. Worse, 5% of doctors are responsible for 95% of malpractice claims, raising all doctor's and hopistal's premiums. Limit Malpractice Awards, raise the negligence standards (so hospitals dont need to run unnecessary tests), and relieve the 95% of decent doctors from paying the premiums of the 5% convicted of malpractice.

3) Eliminate the FDA's requirements that drugs be safe AND EFFICACIOUS. Currently, the FDA requires that pharmaceutical companies prove that their drugs meet two tests: they must prove safe, and they must be 'efficacious,' that is, they must be proven to cure the condition they claim to address in virtually 100% of patients. This is a costly and unnecessary test: Many people react differntly to different substances. The Peanut Butter that fed me through high school will kill someone with an allergy. Let *Doctors* decide what to prescribe, with the understanding that the idiosyncracies of individuals means that results WILL be different with different drugs. A drug that doesnt work, will not be prescribed. On the other hand, if a doctor determines that medical marajuana is more efficacious and cost-effective than morphine, so be it. Eliminate tiered coverage that allows Insurers to cease to cover necessary, but expensive, pharmaceuticals.

4) Engage in Multi-national agreements with other nations to accept their pharmaceuticals. The refusal of the US FDA to permit the importation of Canadian pharmaceuticals is insane. An individual can come to the US from France, or Britain, or Mali, or India, and providing only a driver's license from their own nation, get behind the wheel of a 6,000 pound rental car and take off minutes after landing - even if they don't speak English or have never driven on the right side of the road. And yet, if a pharmaceutical company goes through hundreds of thousands of tests in Germany, or Britain, or Canada, the results are not considered 'valid' in the US. Now, realistically, which is more dangerous: the driver, or a drug produced in Canada?

5) Permit every American to have a Medical Savings Account. Currently, Government workers and some self-employed people can utilize a Medical Savings Account which permits them to cover medical costs using a credit-card-like card. These citizens have a certain amount of money deducted from their paychecks, and go into an account for medical expenses: prescription drugs, eyeglasses, dental work, and even over the counter remedies. These deductions are pre-tax, meaning it lowers the person's gross income, lowering their tax and even possibly dropping them into a lower tax bracket. Better yet, these workers can 'borrow' against future deductions if they incur expenses early in the year at no interest expense. If government workers are allowed these accounts, why not ALL Americans?

These proposals will not solve all of our problems, but they will go a long way to providing access for those who do not have it, lowering costs for everybody, and enhancing the doctor-patient relationship.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Medical Marijuana: Gov. Lynch continues his shuffle of cowardice and shame


I'm sorry, but it's a sad day when a life-long Republican such as myself continues to be more Progressive than the Democratic Governor.

That we should be discussing decriminalization or legalization of ALL marajuana use is a given: the cost of incarceration to taxpayers; the repurcussions to kids smoking a substance that has clearly been established to be less dangerous than either alchohol or tobacco; the irrefutable evidence of the failure of Prohibition and the hardened crime it causes; and the personal experience of the majority of citizens and voters born after 1950, all suggest this is a no-brainer.

But to veto a compassionate bill (and yes, my father experienced the pain of esophagal cancer as he died, and the only relief was morphine, which took his lucidity away far more than marajuana would have), that the Governor himself helped craft (pulling the same psycho-drama as he did during the Marriage Equality process) is absolutely intolerable, inexplicable, and inexcusable.

Shame on you, Lynch!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New Hampshire approves Marriage Equality, 198-176




What a LOOOONG day! Rally at the Capital Building Plaza at 9 am, and then a LOOONG wait all day in the visitors gallery in 90 degree-plus heat,until the House took up HB 73....after 3:45 pm!

The victory of 22 votes was larger than any of the previous margins. Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican who opposed the current version because of Gov. Lynch's needless dramatics, came around and supported it, as did Rep. Tony DiFruscia (Republican) from Windham. Several other Dems (including a clearly choked-up Rep. Roberts, from Keene) who previously opposed the bill changed their minds. Our Bishop, the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, was also in the gallery. Loud Cheers went up from the gallery when the vote was posted, in spite of the Speaker's efforts to tell us to keep quiet.

Immediately after the vote, supporters moved to Reconsider the bill, which they then defeated: a parliamentary tactic to avoid having the bill reconsidered 'by surprise' later this session.

Outside, on the Capitol Building steps, on this historic day for New Hampshire, I proposed to my partner Scott. And (after saying, "Are you serious?!"), he said yes :-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Upholding Prop 8 in California: a proper decision

The California Court upheld Prop 8 today. While I don't have to like the result, I have to say that from a Legal perspective, it was proper.

This same Court once ruled that gays and lesbians could not be discriminated against in the criteria for issuing marriage licenses. They held that the California State Constitution prohibited unequal protection.

When the citizens dont like laws resulting from Constitutional interpretation, their recourse is to amend the Constitution. That is what California citizens did when they passed Proposition 8.

Opponents of Prop 8 took that vote to court. One must be clear here that the issue was NOT should gays have the right to marry: the issue was, narrowly defined, whether or not the process used in amending the California Constitution was appropriate. The Court that initally granted Marriage Equality was forced - by a 6-1 vote - to also rule that the Citizens of California were within their legal right to overturn that decision, and that they did so according to California Law.

Of course, this battle is not over..

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

New Hampshire House defeats Marriage Equality 188-186

It ain't over...but here's what's happened:

The Senate approved HB 73, which were a series of Amendments proposed by Governor Lynch. The House voted AGAINST concurring by a vote of 188-186. (This, after having approved the original marriage equality bill that was sent to the Governor two weeks ago)

They THEN approved a motion 207-168 to go to a Conference Committee withthe senate to try and work out common ground.

The strongest arguement *against* concurring with HB 73 was offerred by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, a Republican and strong supporter of Marriage Equality. As much as I want to see Marriage Equality, Steve was 100% on target.

Under the Federal & State Constitutions, and included in most of the Goevrnor's amendments, it is/was clear that religious institutions were free to marry whomever they found qualified under their own rules. And under these laws, religious groups can legally 'discriminate' against other religions when it comes to membership and services in their own operations - as it should be. However, under state law, if a religious body holds themselves out as a Business to the public, then they must serve the entire public, and not pick and choose, say, to serve whites but not blacks, or to serve Baptists and Methodists but not Pentecostals. That law prohibits organizations from discriminating based on sexual orientation when they hold out business services to the public.

Governor Lynch threw down a gauntlet: in effect, he said he'd approve a Marriage Equality bill, but he wanted an 'exception' so that businesses with a religious foundation could legally discriminate against same-sex couples engaging in marriage and 'related' services, such as receptions. In other words, if the business was held out to the PUBLIC, they could still discriminate against couples based on orientation.

This was a CLEAR STEP BACKWARDS.

Let's hope that the House and Senate can recraft the bill in a way that grants Marriage Equality WITHOUT going backwards on discrimination, and let's hope that hte Governbor actually signs the bill and stops playing both sides against the middle with his usual infuriating cowardice.

November: Equality March on DC

From DavidMixner.Com
As this Administration sits in offices plotting timeline charts on what rights they feel comfortable granting us this year, clearly it is time for us to gin up our efforts and stop waiting for them to hand us our God given entitlements. Enough. I really can't stomach any more being told 'not now'. As nice as it would be, no one is going to give us our freedom; we are going to have to continue to fight like hell for it. It is demeaning to us to be moved around on a political chess board like freedom is a move in some game.

We have to stop it.

Let's never forget that we are not talking about just another piece of legislation nor just an executive order. What is at stake is over 1,000 rights, benefits, privileges and protections granted to all other Americans and denied to the LGBT community. It is about the ability of those who choose to serve their country can do so in total honesty and freedom. That the vision of America is for our young as well as other young Americans. Finally as we work toward full equality we must halt in its tracks the efforts of a number of our fellow citizens to put in place a system of Apartheid for LGBT citizens. The stakes are way too high for them to tell us to wait until next year, or even until the next term.

Our freedom can't be negotiated in the political offices of the White House and in the halls of Congress. Our goal is not to make their path easier but to ensure that young LGBT citizens will not be beaten, denied the right to serve, have their love demeaned in some sort of separate but equal system or excluded from giving their gifts and talents freely to this nation. At this moment, there is very little movement on any of these issues in the White House and it appears that some even believe we should be happy with just hate crimes legislation being passed this year.

I adore President Obama but not enough to allow his team to delay my freedom for political convenience or comfort. It is unacceptable.

My plea is for our LGBT leaders to call a March on Washington for Marriage Equality this November and if they won't do it, I appeal to our young to come together and provide the leadership.

We need to come together in a display of powerful community unity to empower our young and to show the nation that anything less than full freedom is unacceptable. Clearly there are other issues that should be on the agenda for the march but marriage equality is the lynchpin that deals with so many of those issues. The most striking outside that institution would be the freedom to serve in our nation's military - and that weekend I think we could have a separate powerful event to highlight that.

Having organized a number of major marches in my near 50 years of activism, I don't take this call lightly. Trust me, I know that there are times when such marches are ineffective and poorly timed. Yet, I have also seen them be extremely effective both in message and building momentum within the movement. For the first time, we have the opportunity to have tens of thousands of our straight allies and straight students join us and we should organize the march to make it easy for them to be by our sides.

My experience has taught me the secret to any march is to keep the message simple and to make it easy for others to join. Of course, our best organizers must be enlisted in order to ensure that hundreds of thousands attend in an orderly and safe fashion.

Tapping into my previous work, I would suggest the following for consideration: On the Friday before the march 12,000 (approximately the number of our service people that have been dismissed under DADT) led by our veterans walk single file from the Pentagon to the White House until all 12,000 are across from the White House. Let the nation see visibly how many of our citizens have had their careers destroyed while the military allows convicted felons to serve. I would love to see 12,000 across from the White House chanting "Let US Serve."

One of the lessons from previous marches is that everyone should be on the Mall by no later than 3PM. We should not let logistics prevent people from getting to the Mall or otherwise they won't be counted. Everyone must be present before the evening news has to develop their stories. Each marcher and organizer should be told that every single person has to be on the Mall from 2PM to 3PM in order for us to have a success. How they choose to do that I will leave to the organizers.

Watching press secretary Robert Gibbs dodge and duck answers on LGBT issues while it seems almost every other group and issue is being discussed is so depressing to me. The promise of the Democrats being in control was great. They still can rise to greatness. It is not too late but they need our help in lifting them out of their own fears and into the light.

President Kennedy had to deal with a recession, the Berlin Wall, the Cuban Missile Crisis and so much more. However, when Dr. King and others filled the streets of cities around America and yes, Washington, DC, the president found the resources and time to stay by their sides. The time has come for us to remove the current administration's option of shrinking from leadership on this issue and to insist they rise to a new level of greatness along side us as we all fight together for freedom. It is the only way.

DADT, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach, and Obama's deplorable inaction

Friday, May 15, 2009

Gov. Lynch is a Coward





I'm rarely that dramatic in my headlines, but the label fits.

Two weeks ago, the N.H. legislature adopted a Marriage Equality Bill. The Speakers of the House and Senate delayed delivering the bill to the Governor, because once delivered, state law only gives him 5 days to make a decision, and he wanted more time. During that time, the state was baraged with hateful ads from out-of-state groups proclaiming the virtual end of western civilization if he signed. Two days ago, the Governor met with opposition leaders. And yesterday, he announced his decision.

He stated that he would veto the bill in its current form, but sign it if certain amendments were added. Most of these amendments are meaningless: they insure the right of religious institutions to refrain from conducting same-sex ceremonies. This is meaningless because churches already have this right under both the US and State Constitutions; For years Roman Catholic Churches refused to marry non-Catholics, and there was -and is - no legal repurcussion for this. The Constitutions guarentee them their right to conduct their ecclesiastical rites their own way. From this perspective, Lynch's amendments are simply political posturing.

However, one of his 'required' amendments is a clear step backwards.

"a religious organization, association, or society, or any individual who is managed, directed, or supervised by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, or any nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association or society, shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges to an individual if such request for such services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges is related to the solemnization of a marriage, the celebration of a marriage, or the promotion of marriage through religious counseling, programs, courses, retreats, or housing designated for married individuals..."

On its face, this sounds like a statement in support of religious liberty. In reality, it is a step backwards for equality.

The proposed amendments enable organizations that own businesses (such as lakeside retreats, function facilities, etc.) AND WHO HOLD THESE FACILITIES OUT TO THE PUBLIC, to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

All agree that religious institutions must be permitted to do as they wish in the conduct of their own religious life. HOWEVER, once they begin engaging in business with the public, a different set of laws apply. Under current law, businesses may NOT discriminate in the provision of services or housing based on sexual orientation. Under Lynch's proposed amendments, this discrimination would now be legal.

Lynch, once again, can claim to be all things to all people:

He will tell gays and liberals that he supports Marriage Equality.

He will tell theocrats that he supported rolling back the anti-dsicrimination laws to give them an exception.

If it passes, the Conservatives have won a right to discriminate in the conduct of Public Business.

If it fails, Lynch can blame the Legislature for "not doing a good enough job."

Governor, you are pandering the right and avoiding leadership. Whereas you could have had my unending support, you now have my unending scorn, regardless of the outcome of your political games.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NH State Senate votes to Allow Gay Marriage

By NORMA LOVE | Associated Press Writer
1:41 PM CDT, April 29, 2009
CONCORD, N.H. - The state Senate has voted to make New Hampshire the fifth state to allow gay marriage.

The 13-11 vote came after a 45 minute debate over an emotional issue that drew 500 people to the Statehouse for a hearing earlier this month.

The vote establishes a two-tier system with a civil marriage and a religious marriage license. The House now must consider the proposal, which is similar to one it rejected earlier this year.

Gov. John Lynch has said marriage is a word that should be reserved for the union of a man and a woman, but he has not said specifically that he would veto the bill.

Arlen Specter: the Real Lesson




Yesterday, Penn. Senator Arlen Specter annouced that he was switching from the Republican to the Democratic Party, and the political spin-doctors have been working overtime on what this means.

Michael Steele, Chair of the GOP, wrote in an email, "I hope Arlen Specter's party change outrages you. …He told us all to go jump in the lake today." He further referred to Specters "left-wing voting record" and alluded to Benedict Arnold.

Actually, the allusion to Benedict Arnold may be apt. Arnold was a patriot who fought for the colonies in a number of campaigns, and who switched sides only after coming to believe that the Colonies cause was doomed. In Specter's case, he has seen that the GOP has already lost. Or, to use McCain strategist Steven Schmidt's words, "The Republican Party is virtually extinct in the Northeast."

Specter was no liberal. He was a center-right moderate, who rarely received an extreme 0% or 100% voting record from any interest group. But those who do not toe the Theocratic Party line in the GOP are regularly rounded up as heretics, and Specter was simply going to be their latest victim.

Those who criticize him point to the fact that this was based on political expediency, since there has been a sfift of 200,000 voters from Republican to Democrat in Pennsylvania.

But apparently, they miss the point in revealing that very statistic.

One Republican who understands the current crisis in the GOP is Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, one of the last remaining Republican office-holders in New England. In today's New York Times, she writes,

"In my view, the political environment that has made it inhospitable for a moderate Republican in Pennsylvania is a microcosm of a deeper, more pervasive problem that places our party in jeopardy nationwide.

There is no plausible scenario under which Republicans can grow into a majority while shrinking our ideological confines and continuing to retract into a regional party. Ideological purity is not the ticket back to the promised land of governing majorities — indeed, it was when we began to emphasize social issues to the detriment of some of our basic tenets as a party that we encountered an electoral backlash.

It is for this reason that we should heed the words of President Ronald Reagan, who urged, “We should emphasize the things that unite us and make these the only ‘litmus test’ of what constitutes a Republican: our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty.” He continued, “As to the other issues that draw on the deep springs of morality and emotion, let us decide that we can disagree among ourselves as Republicans and tolerate the disagreement.”


Oh, that the GOP in New Hampshire and Maine - and nationally - would listen to those words.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Open Letter to the New Hampshire GOP re: Gay Marriage.

My name is Thom Simmons, and I urgently want to address the imminent vote on gay marriage.

I am 49 years old and a lifelong Republican. I was raised in an ardently Republican household, and have served on multiple Republican committees in a number of states, including the Advance Team for the Reagan Presidential campaign in 1980. In addition, I have always been an active church member.

And yet, in spite of all that, I am one of those who have almost given up on our party as I see us pandering relentlessly to an extreme and shrinking(though vocal) Theocratic base. The hopelessness I feel about our party’s direction is one of the reasons we see New Hampshire lurching from “Red” to “Blue....” and why, in Steve Schmidt's words, "the Republican Party is virtually extinct in the Northeast."

I am also a gay man, and chair of the New Hampshire Bears, the largest gay men’s organization in New Hampshire. One little-known fact about our 200+ members is that of those I have personally met, the majority were once married, heterosexually, some for many years. (Myself, I was married to my wife for almost 23 years, and we have a number of adopted children)

How could a man “turn gay?’’ How could a man live all those years and decide he was “gay” after all that time?

Well, he doesn’t.

Instead, he is barraged from the time he is a child with the message that to be gay is to be abnormal, evil, sinful, wrong, weird, disgusting, and shameful. And so, many, many of us try beyond reason to be what we are not, to fit into a box that someone else built and shoe-horned us into. And after years of exhausting fights with ourselves, we finally accept who we are.

We heard the taunts in grade school, we heard the snide remarks in the locker room, we hear our ‘friends’ tell jokes at the expense of gays, and we see TV parody us as limp-wristed feather-boa-wearing caricatures.

And now, more than ever before, we see our own government telling us, “you’re equal, but not ‘the same.’ You can have water and drink from a fountain, but you can’t drink from our fountain, because you are just Different.” The same arguments that justified segregation when I was a child are now being used to suggest that “civil unions” are somehow “good enough.”
They are not.

They send a strong message that while we will be ‘tolerated’ because it is the politically correct thing to do, we will not be accepted as fellow Americans with equal rights to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.

Please end the enforced inferiority. Gay men deal with many issues as they struggle with their sexuality, and to be set aside as “not good enough” or “not the same” by government is unacceptable. Mr. Sununu's comments about this bill being "garbage," and making snide references to San Francisco, is precisely the nasty politics that Democrats, Republicans, and Independents have all rejected here in the Granite State.

As a traditional Republican, I know that it is not the job of government to impose a culture, or a theology, or a ‘blueprint for life’ on its citizens. It is the job of government to preserve liberty and establish a level playing field.

New Hampshire has always been in vanguard of freedom and liberty. Please, I beg you, take a stand that puts what is right above what may be expedient.

Thank you
Thom Simmons
11 Richmond Rd
Fitzwilliam, NH 03447